San Zeno Castle is the town’s oldest military structure. Its name, deriving from the nearby church of San Zeno, recalls a phase of expansion of the diocese of Verona. Used as military barracksuntil the Second World War, the castle was first used by the Serenissima as a depository for hemp, a material that has always been important for the local economy and whose fibers were necessary to make ropes and sails for the Venetian arsenal. Made up of four rooms surroundinga picturesque inner courtyard and two smaller towers pitched sideways,today the oldest part of the city houses the Tourist Office, the Castles Study Center, the Library, the Municipal Historical Archive and “A. Giacomelli “Civic Museum. Despite the difficulty to accurately reconstructthe system of lifting gates, the passageway makes it easy to imagine its majesty and the hole for the chain pulley that lowered the pedestrian walkway is still visible. At the beginning of the 18th century, the wooden drawbridges were replaced by terracotta bridges and, although this is no longer detectable, the presence of an internal moat surmounted by bridges, whose arches are still visible under the road surface, is certain.

A time will come when the living will envy the dead

There is no trace of the seven wooden ceilings that were originally there, nor of the manholes that were used to communicate between the various floors, but the Ezzelino keep can still be visited today and, indeed,this is strongly recommended to those who wish to have an overhead view of the urban plan of wonderful Montagnana. If the grass is cut and the ground is not soaked with rain, a nice walk outside the oldest part of the city will enable you to admire the mighty base, as well as the details of the walls. To walk out of the historic center, in addition to the main gates, you can also use a military pusterla, opened in this area in modern times to facilitate the passage of mounted soldiers who went to train in the grassy moat.

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